After a year’s hiatus, CineFest returns with more than 60 feature films and shorts unspooling at area venues April 7-14. While there are only a few titles with queer content this year, they all are worthwhile.
“The One,” a centerpiece screening, is an endearing low-budget romantic comedy-drama. Daniel (Jon Prescott) is a self-proclaimed “plain vanilla” straight guy — a college jock with a business-school degree and a fiancée. As the film opens, however, he has just spent the night with Tommy (Ian Novick), a handsome and self-assured gay guy. Their intense fling has Daniel struggling with his sexuality and fears of being outed, while Tommy worries that his heart will be broken.
Although the characters wear their hearts — and their agendas — on their stylish sleeves, “The One” is likable, despite being a bit one-note. Writer/director Caytha Jentis shows promise here, building the film’s sexual and dramatic tension and making fine points about masculinity and identity before delivering a nice, appropriate ending. Novick is particularly ingratiating as Tommy. Unfortunately, Prescott plays Daniel and his conflict too stiffly: He always looks uncomfortable.
Other highlights of CineFest include a sneak peak at out filmmaker François Ozon’s amusing comedy “Potiche,” starring Catherine Deneuve as a trophy wife in the 1970s who takes over her husband’s business during a strike, and “Old Cats,” a highly praised Chilean film by openly gay director Sebastian Silva that features a lesbian daughter and her lover visiting her aging parents.
Lastly, out actress Kelly McGillis delivers a nuanced performance in the vampire-zombie film “Stake Land,” and gay actor/writer-director Jonathan Lisecki has a supporting role in the comedy “Wuss.”
For showtimes, tickets and more information, visit www.phillycinefest.com.